2014 Kim Son 9/11 Essay Contest Winning Essays

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High School Essay Winner

Student name: Yvonne T.
Grade 12

When they hear the word “hero”, most people envision a gallant figure dashing through the air, saving a fantasy world in a mere cape and costume. In reality, heroes are simply individuals who inspire others through their good deeds and positive influence. Society has let its preconceptions of a hero define who these people are, and it may seem like being a hero is an exclusive position for only the elite. However, I have learned that anyone can be a hero, and that the relationship between a hero and those dependent upon him is often mutual. One Christmas, I met others who were heroes to me, and in turn, I became a hero for them.

This past winter break, I had visited a local veterans’ hospital. Many of its patients were newcomers who had recently returned home for Christmas after fighting vigorously for our country. I admired the strength and perseverance these courageous individuals had put in to defend America and its people. Wanting to pay my respects, I sought to share my gift of music with the community by volunteering to play in a small ensemble group. We passionately filled the hospital lobby with the mellifluous sounds of Christmas carols and other holiday favorites. Patients and their families excitedly gathered around to hear us harmonize. Some listened to calm themselves before beginning their medical procedures; others tuned in to relax while recuperating after treatment. It appeared as though a choir had been added to our group- many members of our audience were singing enthusiastically as we played!

I decided that the listeners were my heroes that day, in many ways. Not only were they veterans who valiantly went to war to protect us, but they also acted as avid, appreciative supporters of my performance. I wouldn’t have been able to play if it weren’t for the stability these soldiers granted the country. Moreover, my performance would have been meaningless had they never tuned in to hear me and my ensemble play.

Upon finishing our concert, an elderly patient in a wheelchair and a cast hugged us warmly and whispered to us that we had “made his Christmas.” Touched by his sentimentality, I could not stop smiling and decided firmly that we would be back again next year, no matter what it took. It made me feel like I, too, had been a hero that day for him, just as he and the other veterans had been for me. Not only did a grateful patient’s praise make my Christmas in return, but so did the entire experience.


Middle School Essay Winner

Student name: Aaron L.
Grade 7

Being a hero is not being strong, not being big, or being tall. Being a hero is having courage. To put someone else before yourself because you know it’s right. To stand up for what you believe in. To get up even if you know you’re going to fall back down. Being a hero is to hold your ground in the face of immeasurable odds. To always do the right thing. This is what it means to be a hero.

My father is a hero. My father put someone else before himself. He was strong in the face of a life changing decision. He did it because he knew it was the right thing. If it was not for my Dad and his heroism a man would have suffered from a lifelong debilitating and eventually fatal disease. My Dad donated a kidney.

My dad donated one of his kidneys to his best friend. They have been friends for 25 years and with this surgery they can be friends for 25 more, and hopefully longer still. His best friend had polycystic kidney disease, a disease that leads to large amounts of cysts growing all over the kidneys. In fact when they were removed he lost thirty pounds and set the hospital record for the largest kidneys ever removed. If it were not for my Dad he would have had a much shorter lifespan.

On March 17, 2014 my dad and his best friend arrived at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Houston, TX medical center. My Dad shortly after the standard surgery prep he then underwent the life changing surgery. As if it was meant to be, the newly transplanted kidney started working in 45 minutes when the doctor expected it to begin working within a day. My Dad was in a lot of pain when he woke up and it wasn’t pretty but, my father doesn’t regret what he did to this day.

My father said, and I quote, “I didn’t even think twice about it.” To me my father is a perfect example of a hero. He may not have saved the world, stopped a crime, or fought in a war. To me though, my father is just as much a hero as anyone who did.


Elementary School Essay Winner

Student name: Jocelyn E.
Grade 4

What does being a hero means to you? A hero is someone that save’s someone’s life?

It was a hot afternoon. My Mom and my Dad hurried to the hospital because she had severe labor pains; she could not even breathe. They hurried to the emergency. I was in my mom’s belly waiting to be born. Finally, the doctor did what he needed to do, but everything complicated. It was a long hour of pain; my mom was so tired of pushing. Then the doctors told my mom that she or I would “run out of life” (would die) because I was not ready to born. The doctors told my dad that he needed to make a choice between my mom and me. When the doctor asked my dad, he said, NO!

He could not make a choice. He said, “I want the both of them with me.” The doctor replied, “I’m so sorry but you need to make a choice and fast; we don’t have much time.” My dad said, “I don’t know what to do.” He asked the doctors if there was another option than running away from life. They said, “Yes surgery.” My dad said, “Do what you need to do, but you have to save both of them.” So they did the surgery; it was a long surgery. My dad wanted to run in the room to see what was happening. The nurse told my dad, “Don’t worry, they will be fine.” My dad said to the nurse, “Both might run away from life if something goes wrong.” Until the doctor came out with a smile on his face. My dad asked, “What happened?” The doctor said, “You can go in; your baby is with her mom.” My dad ran into the room and hugged my mom and me, and now look, I’m with my mom and my dad. When they filled the papers, they decided to call me “JOCELYN”. My dad thanked the doctor because they saved me and my mom. My dad told the doctors, “You are the heroes that saved my two loves.”

Thanks to the heroes that saved my mom and me, right now I’m telling my story.


People’s Choice Essay Winner

Student name: Lisa D.
Grade 8

What Makes A Hero?

A hero is only a hero if he or she gives up his or her life for another. A hero doesn’t have to have super powers and super strength to be a hero. The hero can be a normal person! In the Disney movie Hercules, the message of a true hero was succinctly portrayed. From this definition the servicemen in 9/11 were true heroes.

A true hero doesn’t have to have power and strength. A person must be willing to give himself up for another. To do that, it doesn’t take a superhero strength to make that choice; instead it requires an unselfish heart. A choice to lay down his or her life in exchange for another person’s life is a decision anyone can make. The number of people he saved is not of the essence. He or she is a true hero even if he only saves one person.

In the movie Hercules, the boy grew strong and rid the world of many monsters that brought misery to the people’s lives. But when he asked his father why he wasn’t allowed back into Olympus, his father replied that he wasn’t a true hero yet. So what constitute a true hero from a hero? Hercules didn’t figure out later that to be a true hero, he must sacrifice his life in exchange for another, which in this case was for the liberation of Meg.

There were many heroes in 9/11. The service men and women went into the building knowing that it was dangerous and that they could die in an attempt to save the people in the World’s Trade Center. They risked their lives for others which constitute them to be true heroes.

The heroes in 9/11 were like Hercules, true heroes. The heroes in 9/11 didn’t have super powers or super strength and yet they were brave and unselfish, sacrificing their lives to save the ones in the building. That sacrifice has to come from a genuine and unselfish love, not some conditional or temporal love. That is why the rescue attempts of the servicemen and women of 9/11 are legendary. Today we honor the people who went into the building in 9/11 and see them as heroes; remembering them in everyone’s hearts and memories as true heroes.


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